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Pocono Season Ends Saturday Night

Published: November 24, 2017 8:49 pm ET

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The curtain rings down on the 2017 season of speed at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Saturday evening (November 25), with the night’s card honouring two of the racetrack’s stars of the campaign – driver George Napolitano Jr. and pacer Maxdaddy Blue Chip.

Napolitano will win his record 11th dash-winning crown at Pocono, and his sixth in a row, entering the final night with a lead of over 70 against his nearest rivals. “George Nap,” also leading the driving colony at Harrah’s Philly and the 2010 North American dash-winning champion, currently sits second in the U.S./Canada contest in 2017 – although he needs a telescope to see front-runner Aaron Merriman, poised to become only the fourth driver to win over 1,000 races in a season.

Maxdaddy Blue Chip, a five-year-old Sportswriter gelding, was selected Pocono’s Pacer of the Year on the basis of five victories against some of the highest-end horses competing at the northeast Pennsylvania oval, in one of the wins setting a personal best of 1:49.1. If he is to achieve a sixth Pocono victory with a win in Saturday’s $25,000 handicap pacing feature for driver Tom Jackson, however, he’ll have to overcome the outside post eight and some very talented opposition, including Bit Of A Legend N, a $1.9 million career winner who will be starting just inside him off an Open win at Yonkers, with Jordan Stratton listed for sulky action.

The anticipation that is part and parcel of a horseman’s – and a racetrack’s – life as they prepare in the off-season for the next year’s racing will be ratcheted a bit higher than normal at The Downs over the winter, as in 2018, Pocono will be proud to host for the third time the $6 million Breeders Crown Championship Series in the fall. As the saying goes, “it all comes down to the Breeders Crown,” and many of the sport’s royalty will be racing over the red clay action in preliminary and then Championship races over successive weekends as they further establish their top credentials.


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